Saruman tries to beguile Théoden in the Parley
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: March 5, 3019
An event in the Parley with Saruman in Isengard; see that entry for an overview:
'I will go up,' said Gandalf. 'I have been in Orthanc and I know my peril.'
'And I too will go up,' said the king. 'I am old, and fear no peril any more. I wish to speak with the enemy who has done me so much wrong. Éomer shall come with me....'....
'Come then!' said Gandalf, and with that he climbed the steps, and Théoden went beside him.
The Riders of Rohan sat uneasily upon their horses... fearing what might befall their lord....
Gandalf stood before the door of Orthanc and beat on it with his staff. It rang with a hollow sound. 'Saruman, Saruman!' he cried in a loud commanding voice. 'Saruman come forth!'....
'Well?' it said now with gentle question. 'Why must you disturb my rest?'.... Its tone was that of a kindly heart aggrieved by injuries undeserved.
They looked up, astonished, for they had heard no sound of his coming; and they saw a figure standing at the rail [of the balcony], looking down upon them: an old man, swathed in a great cloak, the colour of which was not easy to tell, for it changed if they moved their eyes or if he stirred....
'... Théoden Lord of the Mark of Rohan [you] are declared by your noble devices, and still more by the fair countenance of the House of Eorl. O worthy son of Thengel the Thrice-renowned! Why have you not come before, and as a friend? Much have I desired to see you, mightiest king of western lands, and especially in these latter years, to save you from the unwise and evil counsels that beset you! Is it yet too late? Despite the injuries that have been done to me, in which the men of Rohan, alas! have had some part, still I would save you, and deliver you from the ruin that draws nigh inevitably, if you ride upon this road which you have taken. Indeed I alone can aid you now.'
Théoden... said nothing. He... seemed to hesitate. Gandalf made no sign; but stood silent.... The Riders stirred at first, murmuring with approval of the words of Saruman; and then they too were silent, as men spell-bound. It seemed to them that Gandalf had never spoken so fair and fittingly to their lord.... And over their hearts crept a shadow, the fear of a great danger: the end of the Mark in a darkness to which Gandalf was driving them, while Saruman stood beside a door of escape, holding it half open so that a ray of light came through. There was a heavy silence.
It was Gimli the dwarf who broke in suddenly.... 'In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain.'....
'Peace!' said Saruman, and for a fleeting moment his voice was less suave.... 'I do not speak to you yet, Gimli Glóin's son,' he said....
'What have you to say, Théoden King? Will you have peace with me, and all the aid that my knowledge, founded in long years, can bring?'....
Still Théoden did not answer. Whether he strove with anger or doubt none could say....
'Lord, hear me!' [Éomer] said. 'Now we feel the peril that we were warned of. Have we ridden forth to victory, only to stand at last amazed by an old liar with honey on his forked tongue?.... What aid can he give to you, forsooth? All he desires is to escape from his plight. But will you parley with this dealer in treachery and murder? Remember Théodred at the Fords...!'
'If we speak of poisoned tongues what shall we say of yours, young serpent?' said Saruman, and the flash of his anger was now plain to see. 'But come, Éomer, Éomund's son!' he went on in his soft voice again. 'To every man his part. Valour in arms is yours.... Slay whom your lord names as enemies.... Meddle not in policies which you do not understand. But maybe, if you become a king, you will find that he must choose his friends with care. The friendship of Saruman and the power of Orthanc cannot be lightly thrown aside, whatever grievances, real or fancied, may lie behind. You have won a battle but not a war and that with help on which you cannot count again. You may find the Shadow of the Wood at your own door next: it is wayward, and senseless, and has no love for Men.
'But my lord of Rohan, am I to be called a murderer, because valiant men have fallen in battle? If you go to war, needlessly, for I did not desire it, then men will be slain. But if I am a murderer on that account, then all the House of Eorl is stained with murder; for they have fought many wars.... Yet with some they have afterwards made peace.... I say, Théoden King: shall we have peace and friendship, you and I? It is ours to command.'
'We will have peace,' said Théoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly.... 'Yes...' he said, now in a clear voice, 'we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished — and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men's hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor.... Even if your war on me was just as it was not... even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma's body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc.... A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.'
The Riders gazed up at Théoden like men startled out of a dream. Harsh as an old raven's their master's voice sounded in their ears after the music of Saruman. But Saruman for a while was beside himself with wrath. He leaned over the rail as if he would smite the King with his staff. To some suddenly it seemed that they saw a snake coiling itself to strike.
'Gibbets and crows!' he hissed, and they shuddered at the hideous change. 'Dotard! What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs?'.... Now his voice changed, as he slowly mastered himself. 'I know not why I have had the patience to speak to you. For I need you not, nor your little band of gallopers, as swift to fly as to advance, Théoden Horsemaster. Long ago I offered you a state beyond your merit and your wit. I have offered it again, so that those whom you mislead may clearly see the choice of roads. You give me brag and abuse. So be it. Go back to your huts!
'But you, Gandalf! For you at least I am grieved, feeling for your shame. How comes it that you can endure such company?'
The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 10, The Voice of Saruman
Elena Tiriel 18May05